Review – Professor Layton vs Ace Attorney

Two long years after the fateful TGS 2010 trailer, the cross-over of the two most brilliant minds of the DS is a last in my 3DS.

Graphically speaking, Professor Layton vs Ace Attorney (PlvsAA) is impressive. That said, it doesn’t seem to apply to the most important characters because Layton & Luke look odd, and Phoenix seem rather inexpressive at times. On the other hand, NPCs are astonishingly detailed and Mahone looks like she comes from a Ghibli movie. The excellent CG scenes further add to the overall quality. In fact, I just had the impression that 3DS had finally entered the portable next-gen, proof that it can make technical wonders when developers don’t go into useless thrift. PlvsAA is also an outstanding achievement in level design, story and characters.

PlvsAA takes the best of both franchise to deliver high-class, fun and cuteness at the same time. The more you progress in the story, the more you will admire Level-5 genius narrative. The story is fascinating and each end of chapter has such a big suspense that you can’t stop playing. The four characters end up in a medieval city haunted by witchcraft. In this world, reality is fiction, and fiction always become reality. The scenario is so full of mysteries that the very end of the game actually has some trouble explaining all of it. The last trial end up being a tiring series of explanations, rather than the climax we are accustomed to in Ace Attorney. The end of the game can also seem a bit naive, even though I was pleased this way. The story in whole was nonetheless coherent.

As for the gameplay, fans will clearly lament the low difficulty settings. The puzzles are middle-school level and will disappoint those who fancy scratching their heads and keep their hint coins in their purse. The trials are a bit more demanding but the game keeps guiding you way too often. At some point you can’t even think by yourself. Your evidence list is short (5 to 10 items) and hint coins are available. PlvsAA introduces a new feature : you now cross-examine multiple witnesses at the same time. They often contradict or argue with each other, thing that you’ll have to learn to dig out the truth. They won’t hesitate to jump from the terraces if they have something to add. Sorting all this confusion can be tricky at times and makes the judiciary part particularly entertaining. As for the «VS» part, there is a short scene that feels like it without ever being convincing. It almost feels as if Level-5 had re-wrote the game entirely, because many sequences from the first trailer never appear in the full game.

Those drawbacks do make the experience far less good than it should have been, but this unique cross-over remains solid entertainment for 30 hours, thing you seldom have on 3DS. Also, it should be noted that more difficult puzzles will come as free DLCs during the following weeks.

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